By Karen Lemme, Au.D.
Hearing loss can be very isolating, therefore, one of the most rewarding aspects of my job is seeing the improvement in people’s lives when they are able to hear and reconnect with their family and friends and begin to enjoy life again.
One of my most memorable patients is a 93 year old gentleman who lived by himself. Most of his family members lived out of town and so his primary means of communication was via the telephone. Due to a significant hearing loss he had a very difficult time communicating either face to face or over the phone. Not only was this isolating for the patient, it also presented safety concerns since he lived by himself.
When he first came into my office, his ability to communicate face to face was very difficult and required me to speak very loudly, slowly and repeat often. His test results showed very poor speech recognition in quiet when tested in the sound booth. The loss was so significant, I thought his only solution may be surgery for a cochlear implant. Due to his age, overall health, required travel for the surgery and multiple follow-ups I wasn’t certain that was something he would either qualify for, or even be interested in pursuing.
Following the evaluation, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to try a power hearing aid on him and see how he would do. I programmed up a demo BTE aid in hopes that he could at least follow the conversation during the remainder of the appointment with a little improvement. I was extremely surprised when he was able to follow most of the conversation between he, his family member, and myself with relative ease even if we were not facing him.
The family member was also impressed and he ordered the aids and custom earmolds. I see him regularly for cleanings and follow-up appointments. When he comes in the office, he is able to carry on a conversation with myself and the other staff with no difficulty. I always refer to him as my “Star Patient”. He and his family are so happy that they can now converse with him both on the phone and in person with relative ease.